Munoz-De Zalaya v. Garland, No. 22-60505 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Petitioners in this immigration case are a husband and wife who applied for asylum and withholding of removal based on their membership in the proposed particular social group of “Salvadoran business owners.” The immigration judge (IJ) denied the family asylum and withheld removal, concluding that “extorted business owners” do not constitute a particular social group (PSG), that no showing of nexus is possible without a PSG, and that extortion is not persecution. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed the appeal, agreeing with the IJ’s ruling that the family had not asserted a cognizable PSG.
The Fifth Circuit denied Petitioners’ petition for review. The court held that regardless of geography, “business owners” are not a protected social group. The court explained that to be eligible for asylum, an applicant must show, among other things, that “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.” The court wrote that “business owner” is not an immutable trait. The court reasoned that because a PSG is an essential element of claims for asylum and withholding of removal, Petitioners cannot succeed on either claim.